In the mid 1960s, Chu Enoki took part in creative activities as a member of Kobe Japan Zero, an avant-garde artists’ group. Since then, art has been a key part of his life. Becoming detached from the group in 1976, he maintained his career as both an artist and as a full-time technical worker: the latter involved producing bespoke designs and industrial components from metal and resin, processes which feed back into his artwork.
Living through a time of drastic change in society which was brought about by the rapid economic expansion in Japan in the post-war period, and by international tensions from the Cold War, Enoki has continually felt a sense of crisis regarding issues such as the destruction of nature due to urbanization and pollution as well as violence, wars and conflicts. To Enoki, art was a way to express such a sense of crisis and to seek self-assurance. His work is concerned with both modern society and private life.
The artist’s iconic diptych portraits from 1977 and 1979, with Hangari, or in English ‘half-shaved head’, shows the artist embracing the freedom of artistic expression and language. His determination to live his life closely tied to art is apparent there. The exhibition title also signifies his “double life” as a family man and an avant-garde artist, which resulted in enriching his artistic creation to a greater degree. At times his practice liberated him from the emotional conflict of living the dual life as a family man and an artist. “Art has been my weapon in life”, he says.
His work encompasses drawing, sculpture, installation and performance. Through his ethos, LSDF, which stands for Life Self Defence Force, he urges us to protect our lives through our own resources.
Born in 1944 in Zentsu-ji in Kagawa prefecture, where there was an old military base, Enoki grew up being familiar with the sight of military paraphernalia and wartime shelters. As a young boy he was fascinated by weaponry. Since he created his first cannon in 1972, he has “fired” it on various occasions. Through his performances, he suggests that weaponry, when disarmed, can simply be finely engineered and skillfully crafted beautiful objects that have the potential to be used for positive purposes. He celebrates life and encourages people to renew their perceptions.
Selected Solo & Two Persons Exhibition
Chu Enoki: Enoki Chu, White Rainbow, London
PATRONE-35, Port Gallery T, Osaka
For Whom the Cannon Burst?, Capsule Gallery, Tokyo
Going to Hungary with HANGARI, Budapest/Deprecen, Hungary
Selected Group Exhibition
The National Museum of Art, Osaka
Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Aichi
Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto
Hyogo Prefectural Art Museum, Kobe
Public Art Commissions
AMAMAMA, Amagasaki, Hyogo
Spora-go・Bulb-go・Seed-go・Pollen-go, HAT Kobe, Hyogo